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Tonight, I’m grilling out.  I’m grilling a “BurgerBurgerBurger” (said with excitement and sometimes jazz hands).  I’ve discovered that I can make a really delicious burger.

To please A, I will try to buy ground beef that comes from farms where cows live happy lives (he’s vegetarian).  Then, I make burgers using a recipe similar to meatballs, and A and I will sit with a beer or a glass of cream soda, depending on the evening, and watch the sun set as my meat-burger and his veggie burger sizzle on our little grill.  You can smell the bits of onion cooking in the burgers on the grill, and watching it all cook in front of you makes you salivate to contemplate the juicy (and in my case, well-done) burger in front of you.

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Have I mentioned that I don’t often get to eat burgers, unless my dad makes one for me or I make one for myself?  (Aside: my father is truly the grill master, shoveling out through snow to the grill in the wintertime.  I aspire to grill at that level).  Because of cross-contamination on grills, burgers are not a safe choice for me at restaurants… which is why they have become so exciting to me at home.

Here’s the recipe for Johanna’s burgers:

In a bowl, mix up ground beef (85% lean works well) with ½ a yellow onion, diced.  Add a healthy shake of bread crumbs, 1 egg, and a few shakes of oregano, basil, garlic, and then add one more shake of garlic for good measure.  Mix it all up and then form patties roughly the size of your palm.  Go outside to put your burgers on the grill, and take a minute to enjoy the summer evening as they cook.


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SLI’s Potato-Kale Gratin

Ok, so my friend SLI gave me a cookbook for my birthday last year – a cookbook that she wrote for me.  It’s a great story, and I’ll tell you the whole thing someday (or put it in my book!), but today is not the day for a story, today is a day for a recipe.

Here is my interpretation of SLI’s Potato-Kale Gratin:


-1.5-2 lbs thin-skinned boiling potatoes (I use butter potatoes)

-1 bunch kale

-1/4 cup olive oil and 2 cloves minced garlic (or Wegman’s Basting Oil, with basil and garlic already in it)

-1/3 to 2/3 cup bread crumbs

-1/3 grated Parmesan cheese

-1/2 cup mozzarella and/or white cheddar cheese

-optional: oregano, thyme, basil


Ok, first off – and this is totally optional – I toast my own bread crumbs.  It’s kind of a pain, but I tried it the first time because I had a concern over the ingredients in store-bought bread crumbs, and I found that it added a lot, taste-wise.  So now I do it all the time.  Take a couple slices of wheat bread, crumble them up into little pieces, and bake them on a cookie sheet for around 10 minutes (or until they look toasty but not black) at 350.  (You can always make extra for next time and stick them in the freezer until you use them again).

Next, preheat (or maintain) the oven at 350.  Boil a large pot of water, and also prepare an ice bath in a big bowl.  Slice the potatoes ¼ inch thick (using a knife or mandoline) and then add them to the boiling water for around 5 minutes.  Drain the potatoes, dump them into the ice bath (and stir them around a bit to make sure they all get cold), drain them again and let them dry – you can blot dry with paper towel.

Cut off and throw out the spines from the kale (this means to cut off the leafy bits from the middle bits).  Wash and cut the leafy bits into ½ thick ribbons (so, length-wise – you’re not making salad, you’re making “ribbons”).

In a big bowl combine the olive oil, garlic, and some herbs (or you can use the basting oil here).  Add the kale and mix it all up with your hands.

Take a 9×12 rectangular casserole dish, or whatever other oven-safe dish you like.  Layer the kale, then potatoes, then mozzarella/white cheddar cheese, then bread crumbs, as many layers in this pattern as you can fit.  I like to end with parmesan cheese on top. Sprinkle some herbs on top too at the end.

Cover with a top or aluminum foil or a cookie sheet, and bake for 30 minutes.  Bake for another 15 minutes, uncovered.





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